AP — MEMPHIS, Tenn. Tyre Nichols, a Black motorist from Memphis, was repeatedly attacked with their fists, boots, and batons while he pleaded for his mother in a video that was released by authorities on Friday.
MORE STORY: Tyre Nichols was a beautiful soul with a creative vision. A timeline of the arrest and death of Tyre Nichols
The violent scenes in the film show the officers, who are also Black, following after Nichols, beating him up, and then abandoning him on the ground leaning up against a squad car as they fist-bump and celebrate their accomplishments.
One day after the officers were accused of killing Nichols, the video surfaced. Hard concerns about why fatal interactions with law enforcement persist despite repeated pleas for reform were raised by the disturbing images of another Black man dying at the hands of police.
In other towns, including Memphis, where several dozen protesters blocked the Interstate 55 bridge that transports traffic over the Mississippi River toward Arkansas, protesters assembled for largely peaceful demonstrations. Long rows of semitrucks were parked in reverse. Numerous protesters congregated in Lafayette Park in Washington, DC, which is next to Black Lives Matter Plaza and directly across the street from the White House.
Other cities around the country prepared for protests, although media outlets only reported sporadic and peaceful demonstrations. While chanting and marching through the streets of New York City, Los Angeles, and Portland, Oregon, protesters occasionally impeded traffic.
The video shows officers brutally hitting the 29-year-old FedEx employee for three minutes while yelling obscenities at him. The legal team for the Nichols family has compared the assault to the notorious police beating of Los Angeles driver Rodney King in 1991.
Nichols can be heard saying, “I didn’t do anything,” as a bunch of officers start to wrestle him to the ground after the first officer roughhouses pulling him out of a car.
Tase him!, an officer is heard screaming. Tap him!
“OK, I’m on the ground,” Nichols states coolly.
Nichols remarks, “You guys are really working hard right now. “I just want to get home,” you say.
A few seconds later, he cries, “Stop, I’m not doing anything.”
The cop then uses a Taser on Nichols, who is then seen fleeing. The police then begin to pursue Nichols.
Before Nichols is apprehended at another crossroads, additional cops are called, and a search is conducted. The police kicked, punched, and struck the man with a baton.
Security camera footage shows Nichols lying in the street corner between police cars with three cops around him and a fourth officer close.
Nichols is being held down by two officers while moving around, and a third officer then seems to kick him in the head. With all three cops surrounding him, Nichols slumps even more to the ground. He is again punched by the same officer.
After that, the fourth cop approaches, pulls a baton, and raises it to his shoulder as the other two officers hold Nichols steady, as if he were seated.
One of the officers is heard yelling, “I’m going to baton the f—- out of you.” He can be seen raising his baton on his body camera as at least one other officer is holding Nichols. Three times in a row, the officer uses the baton to strike Nichols in the back.
Nichols is then seen being lifted to his feet by the other officers while flopping like a doll and struggling to maintain his balance.
The officer with the baton continues to threaten him as another police hits him in the face. Nichols trips and twists while being restrained by two officers. The cop who struck him then turns around and strikes Nichols four more times in the front. Nichols then passes out.
The next 40 seconds are spent by two officers on top of Nichols as a third stands nearby. Then, three more policemen arrive, one of them is seen kicking Nichols as he lies on the ground.
Nichols is hunched up against a car, and not a single police offers assistance. One of them is seen leaning down and tying his shoe in the first-person perspective of the body camera clip.
Even though two fire department personnel arrived on the scene within 10 minutes with medical supplies, it takes more than 20 minutes after Nichols is battered and on the pavement before any form of medical assistance is given.
Officers repeatedly assert things about Nichols’ actions that are either not corroborated by the video or that the district attorney and other authorities have claimed did not occur. In one of the recordings, an officer asserts that Nichols lunged for his revolver during the initial traffic stop before escaping and nearly put his hand on the handle, even though this isn’t evident in the footage.
Several cops claim that Nichols must have been high after they place him in handcuffs and have him leaning against a police vehicle. Later, when an officer claims that no drugs were discovered in his vehicle, another cop quickly responds that Nichols must have dumped something while fleeing.
Although an autopsy report has not been made public by the authorities, they have stated that there did not appear to be any cause for the traffic stop and that nothing noteworthy was discovered in the automobile.
In addition to the five policemen who were charged, the video raised concerns about the involvement and potential guilt of the other cops present. Other police may be seen circling after the pounding in the video.
Other officers are being looked into, according to Memphis Police Director Cerelyn “CJ” Davis, for their involvement in the arrest. The five cops’ acts, according to Davis, were “heinous, reckless, and brutal.”
According to her, the video of the traffic stop demonstrates that the officers were “already cranked up, at about a 10.” The police were “aggressive, loud, swearing, and undoubtedly intimidated Mr. Nichols right from the start.”
Geoffrey Alpert, a criminologist at the University of South Carolina who researches use of force, said that police are trained to realize that people could escape only out of fear.
Family members of Nichols urged supporters to demonstrate peacefully.
RowVaughn Wells, Nichols’ mother, said on Thursday, “I don’t want us burning down our city, tearing up the streets, because that’s not what my son stood for.” “You guys will protest peacefully if you are here for me and Tyre,” I said.
On Friday, Christopher Taylor participated in the demonstration near the Interstate 55 bridge. He claimed to have seen the footage. The resident of Memphis thought it was abhorrent that the policemen seemed to be laughing as they stood around following the beating.
He admitted, “I cried.” And as a son and a parent, I could have been the one in that situation because my mother is still alive.
President Joe Biden stated Friday during a speech at the White House that he was “extremely concerned” about the possibility of violence and urged peaceful protests.
Biden claimed that earlier in the day, he talked with Nichols’ mother and informed her that he would be “making a case” to Congress for the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in order to “get this under control.” The proposal, which has stagnated, aims to increase state and federal accountability while addressing police abuse of power and wrongdoing.
According to court documents, Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., Emmitt Martin III, and Justin Smith, all five former cops, were apprehended.
Second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct, and official oppression are all allegations that the police are each facing. According to court and jail records, four of the five policemen had made bond and were no longer in custody as of Friday morning.
According to Tennessee law, a second-degree murderer faces a sentence of 15 to 60 years in prison.
Two deputies who responded to the scene of the incident, according to Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner, were stripped of their duties pending the results of an internal inquiry.
The Fraternal Order of Police’s national president, Patrick Yoes, denounced the alleged acts of the Memphis cops.
“The incident as it was recounted to us does not amount to improper traffic enforcement or improper police action. According to Yoes, this is a criminal assault carried out under the color of the law.
Davis pledged the police department’s “full and total cooperation” throughout the ongoing state and federal investigations.
The following story was produced in part by the Associated Press’s Aaron Morrison in New York, Travis Loller in Nashville, Tennessee, and Rebecca Reynolds in Lexington, Kentucky.